Spokane St. Viaduct $ in jeopardy again? Alert from City Hall

April 2, 2009 at 3:17 pm | In Spokane St. Viaduct project, Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 10 Comments

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It’s been a long and winding road for the city to secure all the $ needed for the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project, which will widen (and change the ramp configuration of) the West Seattle Bridge section between 99 and I-5. And now, the mayor’s office is asking for support in fighting a legislative proposal — an amendment to the House transportation budget just unveiled this week, and coming up on the floor tomorrow — that they say would put some of the money at risk again. Here’s how mayoral spokesperson Alex Fryer explains it:

Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson introduced an amendment of HB 1314 (information, status here) with this section:

b) In order to ensure that the city of Seattle complies with its commitment as described in subsection (a) of this subsection, the state shall make $50,000,000 of the transportation partnership account-state appropriation as provided in the 2009-2011 transportation budget, or as much thereof as is appropriated from this account, whichever is smaller, available for contribution to the south Spokane Street Viaduct component of the Alaskan Way viaduct replacement project, contingent on the city of Seattle complying with this subsection.

Full text of the amendment can be seen here.

Basically, this links $50 million of state money for Spokane Street Viaduct project to improvements the city was already going to make in the central waterfront and north end with the deep-bore tunnel. The problem is the widening of the Spokane Street Viaduct is expected to go to construction later this year, and tunnel improvements aren’t expected for several years – when the tunnel is nearing completion in early 2016.

We’re worried that Dickerson’s amendment, which passed (earlier this week) in the transportation committee, is now part of the House transportation budget. We want the state House to strip this provision, which could derail completing the Spokane Street Viaduct project by 2012.

We need folks to take action.

Call the state legislative Hotline at 800-562-6000. Ask for Eileen Cody, Sharon Nelson, Frank Chopp or Judy Clibborn and tell them to stop dickering and start building.

Reps. Cody and Nelson represent our area specifically – their websites are linked from here. Fryer says the Governor and Senate are opposed to this proposal, but it comes up on the House floor tomorrow.

ADDED THURSDAY NIGHT: Rep. Nelson says in comments below that she and Rep. Cody are on the case.

10 Comments

  1. The really bad news in this transportation budget is that it delays light rail over I-90, and guts rail capital funding that would have meant drastic speed and reliability improvements in Amtrak to Portland. But the budget keeps funding for freeway expansions….

    Contact Eileen Cody and Sharon Nelson (and copy Joe McDermott while you’re at it), and remind them that we can’t solve transportation by widening the freeways; we must have transit alternatives, and quickly!

    Why does light rail to Bellevue matter to West Seattle? Because plenty of West Seattleites work there. Also, if we want our peninsula to have good transit alternatives, we’ve got to get the other lines built, first–since we’re not getting the monorail. Yes, it will be decades. But the longer we wait, the more decades it will be.

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2009/04/01/take-action-mail-legislators-about-light-rail-to-bellevue/

    http://seattletransitblog.com/2009/03/31/meanwhile-in-the-rail-news/

    Comment by J — 4:08 pm April 2, 2009 #

  2. Representative Cody and I are aware of this issue and are actively working to protect the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project. We put an amendment “on the bar” at noon today to do so.

    After the government relations director for the Mayor alerted us yesterday, we commenced working on the problem and preparing the amendment. We have other legislators who have signed on to support making sure the Spokane Street viaduct project is not jeopardized.

    Representative Sharon K. Nelson

    Comment by Rep. Sharon Nelson — 4:14 pm April 2, 2009 #

  3. We in West Seattle will be royally screwed if the Spokane Project falls through. I’m pleased to see here that Reps. Cody and Nelson are on this. Hope they can get the support we need to keep this on the schedule.

    Comment by Keith — 7:07 pm April 2, 2009 #

  4. Eileen Cody is the best!

    Comment by Dis — 9:50 pm April 2, 2009 #

  5. The odd thing is that Dickerson’s district (Ballard/QA/Magnolia) would be directly affected by her proposal – in that they would represent a significant percentage of the casualties when the Viaduct collapses.
    .
    If I were her constituents I’d be starting the recall petition about now.

    Comment by Michael — 9:18 am April 3, 2009 #

  6. Bully consensus politics are always inappropriate as is this effort to speed up the process on the I-90 rail conversion here.

    If you will take the time to read the engineering report on rail conversion it is clear that engineering issues are NOT RESOLVED and that this is a “PLANNED” cost overrun.

    Waiting to go ahead with the final on this project before those issues are resolved is fiscal malfeasance prosecutable by law.

    Comment by Douglas Tooley — 10:17 am April 3, 2009 #

  7. The Spokane Street work must be finished on time, otherwise the upcoming work on the approach to the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the lack of options for getting through that work will lead to a complete commute meltdown.

    Comment by Al — 10:17 am April 3, 2009 #

  8. There is some confusion over the amendment I proposed to ensure that the City of Seattle honors its transportation commitments to all parts of Seattle. My amendment, which was adopted unanimously, is not intended to, and will not, slow down the Spokane Street Viaduct project in any way. Reps. Cody and Nelson have made very clear to me and others how vitally important this project is to West Seattle and nearby communities.

    My amendment is designed to ensure that the City of Seattle does not lose sight of existing commitments as it moves forward with other projects. These commitments are just as essential to the central waterfront and north end of Seattle as the Spokane Street Viaduct is to West Seattle.

    It is important to understand that my amendment says nothing about which projects should be started first or completed first. The City of Seattle can easily and instantly comply with my amendment simply by signing a letter that reaffirms in writing what they have already agreed to do verbally. There is no reason on earth why this statement can’t be made immediately, with zero effect on the progress or timing of the Spokane Street Viaduct.

    My goal is for the whole city to move forward together, without one neighborhood being pitted against another. That can only happen if the City of Seattle honors its agreements with all parts of the city. That’s not too much to ask, and that is why my amendment was supported unanimously by every Democrat and Republican on the House Transportation Committee.

    Comment by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson — 4:20 pm April 3, 2009 #

  9. If WSDOT demolishes the southern portion of the Viaduct as proposed in 2009, before the Tunnel is useable, there will be disruption to flow which is what the Tunnel advocates have said would be avoided. And it will waste $500 million. Also, in the event that the Tunnel proposal falls through, there needs to be a Plan B to implement immediately. Widening the Spokane st. Viaduct through retrofitting is valid as a stand alone project.
    We may want to Retrofit (same technology) the Viaduct as a backup that can be implemented quickly and be through in 3 years with no disruption to volumes and speeds and serves the same communities(which is saying much more than the tunnel will provide).
    WSDOT should hire Structural Engineer Kit Miyamoto to vet the RETROFIT to check viability, just in case.
    If it is needed, it will save $1 billion that could be redistributed to other projects like 520 bridge replacement.
    Do the right thing.
    Mary Lou, keep up the good work!

    Arthur M. Skolnik FAIA

    Comment by Art Skolnik — 9:44 am April 4, 2009 #

  10. Completion of the Spokane Street project should not be held up. It is an essential corridor for moving people and goods in Seattle. Don’t let politics again hold up an important project. Employers don’t need more capacity restrictions. Please do whatever is necessary to keep this critical grade-separated roadway on schedule.

    Comment by John Odland — 7:53 pm April 8, 2009 #

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